Sunday, May 19, 2024

Has Ryan Reynolds Ever Come Close to An Oscar Nomination?

When you stop and think about Ryan Reynolds, what creeps into your mind? More likely than not, your first thought is probably Deadpool followed perhaps by visions of Pikachu wielding a magnifying glass or his face engaging in a cocky expression on a Netflix thumbnail. Where you’re not likely to see Reynolds is anywhere near a major awards ceremony. That’s not a condemnation of all his skills as an actor or a declaration that he’s unlikable. Rather, it’s a reflection of the kind of movies he headlines. Reynolds is a successor to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Will Smith, who didn’t get much Oscar buzz for “Eraser” and “I, Robot” respectively. 

Focus Features titles released in the final four months of the year are supposed to get Oscar nods. Ryan Reynolds movies released in the summertime are designed to make big bucks at the box office. These are simple facts of the industry. 

Still, even with this status quo firmly established, one might be surprised that the “IF” star has come shockingly close over the years to scoring an Oscar nomination. Reynolds has never secured a Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor nod at that ceremony. However, more of the movies that he’s headlined have garnered significant award-season attention than you’d imagine.

One reason for this phenomenon is that, just before “Deadpool,” Reynolds focused primarily on small-scale indie movies. In the wake of “Green Lantern,” “The Change-Up,” and “R.I.P.D.,” it looked like Reynolds was switching gears away from traditional leading man roles. This is when he anchored titles like “The Voices,” “The Captive,” “Woman In Gold,” and “Mississippi Grind.” As late as five months before “Deadpool,” he was still anchoring such features. One has to imagine what would’ve happened if that Merc with a Mouth movie hadn’t ever taken off as a pop culture sensation. What direction would Reynolds have gone with his career? Would he have just kept on chugging in indie movies until one of them made him an arthouse darling? There’s a “What If…?” scenario worthy of a Marvel Comics run.

This streak of independent cinema did put Reynolds adjacent to major awards shows, albeit he never actually got nominated at these events. Typically, this future “Free Guy” leading man would get overshadowed by the traditionally dramatic performers he was acting against. Helen Mirren in “Woman In Gold,” for instance, has a smattering of awards recognition. Meanwhile, Ben Mendelson scored a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination in Best Male Lead for his work in “Mississippi Grind.” These were indie titles on people’s radar, but they tended to be titles whose most acclaimed performances didn’t stem from Reynolds.

Reynolds did manage to score a handful of awards nominations as an actor for some of his indie efforts, though. Over a decade ago, he was one of several performers nominated in the Best Comedic Ensemble category at the Gotham Awards for “Adventureland.” Meanwhile, the one-man movie “Buried” saw Reynolds scoring some small awards show nods for his portrayal of a guy trapped inside a buried coffin. Neither of these got Reynolds anywhere close to scoring an Oscar nod, but they do reflect some of his most notable awards show nominations to date.

Ironically, the project Reynolds got the most awards attention for was not when he worked with filmmakers like Atom Egoyan or Tarsem Singh. It was actually for his work in the first “Deadpool” movie in 2016. Contemporary readers may find it hard to imagine, but there was a brief moment in the 2016-2017 award season where it looked like Reynolds was making a serious run at a Best Actor nod for this movie. Reynolds was the face of “Deadpool,” the guy known worldwide as the actor who never gave up on the project even when all hope seemed lost. That commitment led to him being inextricably tied to the hit superhero movie and reaping lots of nominations come awards season. 

Reynolds scored a Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) nomination for “Deadpool,” while getting a nomination as a producer in the Best Theatrical Motion Picture category at the Producers Guild of America Awards. If there was ever a moment where Reynolds was going to get an Oscar nomination, this was it. “Deadpool” would unsurprisingly end up scoring zero nominations at the Oscars that year thanks to the Academy’s long-standing hesitation in recognizing comedies (also, it was “Deadpool”). Performers like Viggo Mortensen and Ryan Gosling dominated that year’s Best Actor Oscar category, but Reynolds was nowhere to be seen.

Since “Deadpool,” Reynolds has dedicated himself to a steady stream of mainstream-friendly projects. His days of anchoring indie movies will have to wait for another day. Now, he’s got a barrage of Shawn Levy blockbusters to headline. However, his one great foray into major awards ceremonies since the first “Deadpool” has come through small-screen exploits. His reality program “Welcome to Wrexham” on FX has become a critical darling and scored a bevy of major nominations at TV awards shows. Reynolds even received an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program category for his efforts here.

That kind of recognition shows, much like his nods for “Deadpool” and “Adventureland,” that awards shows aren’t innately hostile to Ryan Reynolds. However, given his proclivity towards commercial fare in the last decade, it’s doubtful that Reynolds will get any closer to scoring an Oscar nomination. Even this summer’s second sequel to “Deadpool,” the movie that almost brought Reynolds to the Dolby Auditorium, is almost certainly not going to bring Reynolds Oscar love – despite seeming bound to become one of the biggest movies of the year at the box office.

It’s especially doubtful Reynolds will get a “make-up” Best Actor Oscar nomination for this threequel after getting snubbed for the first “Deadpool”. Simply put, it’s rare for actors to get Oscar-nominated for characters they both played previously and never got Oscar-nominated for. If Christian Bale didn’t get a Best Actor nod for “Batman Begins,” for instance, it was doubtful he would get one for his work in the sequels. Exceptions like Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” and Angela Bassett in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” do exist, but they’re the exception, not the rule. That trend will almost certainly keep Reynolds out of the next Oscars ceremony, an ironic fate given that the first “Deadpool” is still the closest he’s ever come to becoming an Oscar-nominated performer.

Are you excited for “IF?” Do you think Ryan Reynolds will ever hear his name called on Oscar nomination morning? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

You can follow Lisa and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars & Film on her portfolio here

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